Yes, There are Mortgages for those without U.S. citizenship! Here’s What You Need to Know
The “American dream” has a number of key ingredients: a loving spouse, a fulfilling job, and 2.5 children, for starters. (Actually, it’s more like 1.86, per the latest Census data.)
Home ownership is an important piece of the puzzle, too — you’ve gotta have somewhere for that spouse and kid to sleep, after all! Or maybe you’re looking to get ahead of the game by purchasing real estate as an investment property. Either way, for non-U.S. citizens, qualifying for a mortgage can be a little bit more challenging, but it’s still possible. Here are our answers to some common questions.
What is a “non-U.S. citizen” anyway?
The most basic definition is that someone wasn’t born here or hasn’t become a naturalized citizen of the United States. That said, the definition gets a little bit trickier and more specific when you’re talking about taking out a mortgage loan as a non-U.S. citizen. You can be at different steps along the path to citizenship or permanent residency, or may not be seeking those statuses at all.
Regardless of your intentions, how many hoops you’ll have to jump through to apply for a mortgage will depend on whether you’re a permanent or non-permanent resident alien — or, of course, a naturalized citizen.
What’s the difference between permanent and non-permanent residency?
Basically, non-U.S. citizens can be separated into two categories for mortgage lending purposes: permanent resident aliens and non-permanent resident aliens.
- A permanent resident alien is someone who has been granted the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely while they maintain their foreign citizenship. Permanent resident aliens are those who’ve received a Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as a “green card,” and are sometimes also called “lawful permanent residents.”
- A non-permanent resident alienis someone who lives in the U.S. without a green card, often on a visa connected to a temporary employment role or project. Non-permanent resident aliens aren’t breaking any laws, and can legally stay in America for years at a time — they just haven’t (yet) been granted the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely.
For the purposes of taking out a mortgage, non-permanent residents are those who will face the most difficulties in qualifying; most lenders will treat permanent residents in much the same way as they do natural or naturalized citizens when qualifying them for a loan.
That said, it’s still possible to take out a home loan as a non-permanent resident! You’ll just need to go through a different process and provide certain specific types of documentation to do so.
What documents do you need to apply for a mortgage if you’re not a U.S. citizen?
All non-U.S. citizens will need to have a Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (“ITIN”) in order to apply for a U.S. mortgage, whether permanent or non-permanent. (For permanent residents, aside from your Social Security card and your green card, the rest of the documentation process to apply for a mortgage will be mostly the same as it is for any other American citizen: you’ll likely need to supply tax returns and bank statements to verify your ability to repay the loan.)
Non-permanent resident aliens will need to provide their Social Security number or ITIN as well as an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD. This document is also sometimes known as a “work permit,” and proves you have the right to work on U.S. soil.
If you don’t have an EAD, you may also be able to qualify using a visa sponsored by your employer. Depending on the lender, you may also be able to provide the following types of visas as proof of legal residency:
- H-series visas, which are issued to temporary workers
- E-series visas, which are issued to investors and certain other temporary workers
- G-series visas, which are issued to diplomats and others who work in international organizations
- L-series visas, which are issued to intracompany transferees with managerial responsibilities or special skills
- O-series visas, which are issued to people with extraordinary abilities
Other types of visas or residency documentation may qualify, depending on your lender. Always check specifically with your mortgage provider to learn exactly what kind of paperwork you’ll need to provide in order to qualify.
Keep in mind, too, that your legal residency and eligibility to work documentation may need to be valid for a substantial amount of time after the closing date of the loan — or you may need to supply evidence that the document will be renewed or has been renewed in the past.
How do I prove my creditworthiness as a non-U.S. citizen?
An applicant’s credit score and credit history are important considerations for a lending company. This part of the process can be challenging even for natural citizens who’ve been building credit for years — but for a non-U.S. citizen, it can be even more difficult to prove creditworthiness. Generally, credit you build in another country won’t transfer automatically to your credit report in the United States. If you don’t yet have many lines of U.S. credit to your name, your lender may be able to supplement your credit profile using alternative tradelines that are not reported to the credit bureaus, such as utilities and cable subscriptions.
However, prospective homebuyers generally need at least 12 months’ worth of history on at least two or three different accounts, which means you’ll probably need to wait at least a year after immigrating before applying for a home loan. And your mortgage lender may also ask you for credit reference letters from a previous lender or other contacts, as well. Again, always check directly with your financial institution directly to learn what their requirements are!
What else do I need to know about non-U.S. citizen home loans?
Along with needing to prove your legal residency, eligibility to work, and creditworthiness, you may face a few extra hurdles as a non-U.S. citizen applying for a mortgage. For starters, you may need to take extra steps to verify your assets and any foreign income you make, as well as needing to supply a one- to two-year work history. Furthermore, you may face higher down payment minimums, a higher interest rate, and additional restrictions depending on which kinds of loan programs you’re considering (such as conventional mortgages governed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHA loans, VA loans, and more).
Does Quontic offer home loans to non U.S. Citizens?
Yes. As a Community Designated Financial Institution, Quontic has the unique standing to offer mortgages to those who weren’t born here. One option worth considering: Quontic’s Community Development Loan, or CDL1. Using a holistic financial profile in order to qualify borrowers, our CDL is specifically designed to help non-traditional borrowers, such as non-U.S. citizens or self-employed individuals, obtain the home loans that can be difficult to qualify for if your paperwork doesn’t fit into the narrow confines of “normal.” It’s kind of like what used to be known as a no-doc mortgage, but better: these are prime mortgages with competitive rates built for qualified, worthy borrowers whose profile just looks a little bit different on paper. Our loans may fit those new to real estate, first-time homebuyers, families considering a second home or those looking to refinance an existing loan.
After all, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. It matters where you’re going — and we’re here to help you find your way home. If you’re looking for a mortgage that’s built for your unique financial circumstances, you can start the prequalification process with us today. All it takes is a few clicks, and we’ll help at every step along the way!
1Lending products are subject to approval. Rates, program terms & conditions are subject to change without notice. Not all products are available in all states or for all amounts. This does not represent an offer to enter into a loan agreement. Other requirements, restrictions & limitations apply. Information is accurate as of October 1, 2021.